Shingles vaccine is associated with reduction in both postherpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster

Shingles vaccine is associated with reduction in both postherpetic neuralgia and herpes zoster, but uptake in the US is low.

A vaccine to prevent shingles may reduce by half the occurrence of this painful skin and nerve infection in older people (aged over 65 years) and may also reduce the rate of a painful complication of shingles, post-herpetic neuralgia, but has a very low uptake (only 4%) in in the United States, according to a study by UK and US researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The researchers, led by Sinéad Langan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reached these conclusions by examining the records of 766,330 aged 65 years or more between 2007 and 2009.

They found that shingles vaccine uptake was extremely low—only 3.9% of participants were vaccinated—but was particularly low among black people (0.3%) and among people with a low income (0.6%).

Over the study period, almost 13,000 participants developed shingles and the vaccine reduced the rate of shingles by 48% (that is, approximately half as many developed shingles as those who were not vaccinated). However, the vaccine was less effective in older adults with impaired immune systems. The authors also found that against post-herpetic neuralgia was 59%.

The authors say: "Herpes zoster vaccination was associated with a significant reduction in incident herpes zoster and [post-herpetic neuralgia] in routine clinical use."

They continue: "Despite strong evidence supporting its effectiveness, clinical use remains disappointingly low with particularly low in particular patient groups."

The authors add: " The findings are relevant beyond US medical practice, being of major importance to the many countries, including the UK, that are actively considering introducing the zoster vaccine into routine practice in the near future."

More information: Langan SM, Smeeth L, Margolis DJ, Thomas SL (2013) Herpes Zoster Vaccine Effectiveness against Incident Herpes Zoster and Post-herpetic Neuralgia in an Older US Population: A Cohort Study. PLoS Med 10(4): e1001420. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001420

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Senegal monitors contacts of 1st Ebola patient

11 hours ago

Senegalese authorities on Monday were monitoring everyone who was in contact with a student infected with Ebola who crossed into the country, and who has lost three family members to the disease.

Cerebral palsy may be hereditary

17 hours ago

Cerebral palsy is a neurological developmental disorder which follows an injury to the immature brain before, during or after birth. The resulting condition affects the child's ability to move and in some ...

19 new dengue cases in Japan, linked to Tokyo park

23 hours ago

Japan is urging local authorities to be on the lookout for further outbreaks of dengue fever, after confirming another 19 cases that were contracted at a popular local park in downtown Tokyo.

User comments